Local is a four-time Cowboy Mounted Shooting world champ

Brendan Heidner
Thursday, August 18, 2022
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Ranger-Review Staff Writer Western film fans in Glendive will not have to look very far this weekend to find a true marksman who can skillfully shoot a firearm from the saddle of a horse with pinpoint accuracy.

Local cowboy Don Evans with his trusted horse, Gunsmoke, is a major competitor in the sport of Cowboy Mounted Shooting and he will be among those competing at the Battle in the Badlands Saturday and Sunday in Glendive.

The CMS sport requires the competitor to ride their horse through designated patterns shooting balloons with one of three guns – a 45 caliber long-colt single action revolver, rifle or shotgun – depending on the event.

Evans’ love for the CMS sport started in 2013 after he watched a demonstration during the ranch rodeo that took place at the Dawson County Fair that year.

“I enjoyed that so much, I went to one of their shoots,” Evans said, noting he eventually got equipped for the sport and entered into the senior mens division as a level 1 shooter. “I was hooked then and I just kept on shooting.”

Gunsmoke has served as Evans’ CMS horse since the start of his competition days, which Evans added is rare for many horses to do it for so long.

“He turned out to be about as good a shooting horse as you could imagine and he really likes the sport,” Evans said. “People either go find a better horse or they get crippled or something happens to them.”

Contrary to popular belief, he added that Gunsmoke had his name “long before” he got his start in CMS.

Since Evans’ start in the sport, he quickly moved up the ranks to a level 6 shooter – the highest attainable level in the sport – and is currently one of the greatest CMS competitors in the world.

He noted that he moved up to a level 2 shooter in his division in 2015 and went on to win his first world championship title that same year; the first of four that he has won.

“It’s been a pretty good trip,” Evans said. “I don’t think there’s too many people that have done that.”

Evans has several other award belt buckles on display in his home to remind him of his many CMS accomplishments.

Although a multi-award winning competitor, Evans noted that winning not his favorite part, rather it is getting to know the other competitors at the various competitions he attends throughout the year.

“Everybody is so friendly and happy to see you and they help each other out, it’s kind of like a big happy family,” Evans said. “It’s one of the most enjoyable sports I’ve ever been in.”

Evans added that he has made many lasting friendships in his eight years of competing in CMS events.

Don Evans competes in a Cowboy Mounted Shooting competition. Evans has been competing in the sport for nearly 10 years and is a four-time champion.

“I’ve got friends all over the country, I just enjoy seeing them and they enjoy seeing me shoot,” he noted.

According to Evans, one of the most challenging things about the sport is concentrating on hitting the balloon targets while simultaneously steering his horse without looking.

Additionally, CMS events that involve shooting a rifle or shotgun require Evans to trust Gunsmoke entirely to run to the finish line while he uses his two hands to shoot targets.

Nonetheless, the challenges also come with many rewarding experiences as he improves year after year.

“If you can beat somebody that’s better than you, that you’ve been idolizing all the time, pretty soon you can out-shoot them,” Evans said.

With a world championship title in almost every shooter level, Evans has a goal to use Gunsmoke once again and attain his 5th consecutive world championship title at the annual world finals competition scheduled to take place in October in Amarillo, Texas.

Anyone in and around Glendive this weekend will have an opportunity to attend a CMS event and watch Evans and several other Montana and North Dakota shooters compete in a hometown arena. Battle in the Badlands, Montana vs North Dakota Border War is a Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association event scheduled to take place on Aug. 20-21 at the Dawson County Fairgrounds.

Evans noted there are currently 31 shooters registered in the event which he believes is a good number for a small, local event.

The event will start on Saturday at 10 a.m. and pickup again on Sunday starting at 9 a.m.

For more information about the upcoming event, visit www.cmsaevents.com.

Reach Brendan Heidner at news@rangerreview.com.